Residual Nightmares of the First Day of School

This time of year, I have dream after dream about school starting. I would be going back tomorrow if I were still teaching. Many students would be absent because of Burning Man and they would come back really pissed off that school didn’t start AFTER Labor Day. The air conditioner in my west-facing classroom might have gone on the fritz during summer (and no one knew) and the poor students might be sitting in 103 degree temps, their back against a passive solar panel (windows).

I always thought the first day of school was a joke anyway. Take roll, go over the syllabus (which, as time went on, got longer and more detailed) Here it is if you’re interested. It’s 9 pages long but it literally had EVERYTHING my students needed to get an A. They didn’t read it. (Note: I can’t believe I “Googled” my own syllabus or that it’s still there…) I’d deal with students hoping to add the class, (“Please professor”) always saying “No” and explaining the lottery system the college of business used at the time.

And in these dreams people from the past show up behaving very like themselves and then some, and I might be (appearing?) in one of the WORST of the numerous teaching situations throughout my career. It’s awful.

I was (for most of the 38 years) a teacher well-loved by students and despised by colleagues. Waking up yesterday from a VERY disturbing teaching dream, I decided to see what the wimmin of the American Language Institute (when I taught) were doing today. These vampiric entities had featured prominently in the nightmare of the wee hours of the morning.

As I searched, I had a few of those attacks of envy they say destroy our self-esteem if we use social media. Pout, pout. Then, out of nowhere, I thought of Desiderata, one section,

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Max Ehrmann

That’s wisdom. It made me think that rather than worrying about what THEY’VE been doing, I should think about what I had achieved in my career, my life. I mentally listed my little victories and my losses and thought, “Well, that was dumb. I’ve lived my life, they’ve lived theirs. Now if they would just stay out of my dreams! Especially since I haven’t seen them since the 90s!”

 

Dogs R Me

I love dogs; in fact, I’ve always been a little “dog crazy.” I’ve “owned” more than twenty dogs since my first dog, Truffle(upagus), who came to live with me when I was 35 and she was 6 months. She was a lab/springer mix. I know about the lab for sure as her mom was my pal, Shadow, who came up to my house every day (she lived down the street) to see if I wanted to play. She would bark once in front of my door and I would come out and take her to fetch tennis balls in the canyon. I’m pretty sure Truffle was springer because of her looks. Here, you judge:

 

Truffle and me, 1988

Truffle (at about 8 mos) and me at Big Dog Health and Fitness Spa

 

After I had Truffle spayed, I got her a puppy. In doing that, I got myself a best friend, Molly Woof, an Aussie/Malamute mix. Molly was an exceptional dog. As a friend said, “…more than a dog.” It’s hard to know what could be “more than a dog” but I got his meaning. She was smart, intuitive, passionate and had a sense of humor. She was my first experience with a canine “soul mate.”

 

Not long after Molly was fully grown, one of my friends told me that her neighbor wanted to take her purebred golden retriever to the pound. The neighbor had had the idea that when her baby was born she should get him a golden retriever puppy, but she knew nothing about dogs and the poor dog was relegated to the backyard 24/7 just for being a puppy. I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d always loved golden retrievers and here I was getting a big red one for free! Kelly was great, reliable, sweet, and easy to love. Her passion was, of course, tennis balls, but we also spent time at the beach together. I had to teach her to swim, but once she got it, we body-surfed together.

The featured image is Molly and Kelly, the golden retriever, at the Garden of the Gods. They were traveling dogs and we spend a couple weeks in Colorado back in 1997, staying at Chatauqua in Boulder and traveling slowly back to California when our time was over. It was their second trip to Colorado, and the longest. On the first trip, we visited my Aunt Martha in Denver and did a hike to Lost Lake.

Other dogs came — Maggie a Girl of the Streets, half husky/half golden retriever came as a stray. I took in a few strays, cleaned them up and found them homes. The most dogs I ever had at once is six and that was incredibly fun.

My first male dog was Lupo. Lupo was amazing, with an immense soul that grew as he got older. He existed to protect me and keep his “girls” in line; he adored Kelly but was afraid of the ocean, so if we took him to the beach, he panicked when we went into the water. Once he swam out and grabbed me by the, uh, tit and dragged me back to shore. Kelly he grabbed by the collar. We learned NOT to take him to Dog Beach if we were going into the waves. Because of Lupo’s wisdom and intelligence, I was able (out of necessity during a dark time in my life) to leave them home alone for two or three nights at a time with a bin of food and water dripping into their LARGE waterbowl.

 

Lupo and Molly

Lupo and Molly on South Fortuna Mountain

He died at twelve years old of a rattlesnake bite. He had a pretty spectacular funeral.

…I wrapped my arms around my beautiful friend, put his poor snake bitten head on my shoulder. The vet inserted the IV, and within seconds, Lupo was gone.

{My friend] Kris and I took Lupo’s collar up to the Lagunas to put his tag on the post with [that of my other snake bit dog] Ariel.

Fencepost

We hadn’t gone far on Sunset Trail when we noticed a coyote walking beside us a few feet to our left. She stayed with us until we were nearly at the post, and I began removing the tag. As I did, I noticed the brand on the collar: Coyote. A shiver went through me. I showed it to Kris. Just as I got the tag off the collar, the coyote crossed the trail about four feet in front of us. She paused to look at us then ran off across the hills, her tail erect like any joyful dog. I looked at Kris, he at me, and we both said, “She took Lupo with her!”

That was Lupo’s funeral. He runs forever across those golden hillsides where he rambled so often with me. (My Everest)

I have had several Siberian huskies — amazing dogs but not for everyone. My last one, Lily T. Wolf, made it out to Colorado with me four years ago. She got to enjoy a real blizzard with deep snow before she died at age 17.

And now I have two great dogs, and great friends. Dusty T. Dog — a 12 year old Dobie lab mix and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog, three year old Akbash. I would have to write a book to tell you about all my dogs and the wonderful things we’ve done together, so I’ll stop here.

Dogs make more sense to me than people do. My mom once said that they were “child surrogates” but that has never been the case. I never wanted children, surrogate or otherwise, but I have always wanted hiking buddies, easy-going, affectionate friends with a good attitude. I’ve found only a very few humans to fill that role, but I’ve found more than 20 dogs eager for the job. Hitting the trail with a dog is one of life’s great joys.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All my dogs — but one — were rescues or would have ended up at the pound. My ONLY dog-owner failure was the dog I bought at a pet store and that story is too grim to tell. Many of my dogs were adult dogs when I adopted them. Lupo was two, Maggie was at least three, Ariel was four. My four purebred Siberian huskies were all rescues: Cody O’Dog was over six, Jasmine was eight, Lily was three, Cheyenne was two. The list goes on. Stray dogs I brought in, cleaned up, neutered and trained included a border collie, a Springer/poodle mix, an immense and beautiful German shepherd, and a purebred springer. ALL of them appeared at my door. Back in the 80s, there were no foster programs. For years my truck wore a bumper sticker, “Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die.” I believe that still. Unless there’s a compelling reason to buy a dog, if you want a pal, remember the really great dogs are already waiting in a shelter or rescue or foster somewhere and one of them might choose YOU!!! ❤

Bear -- the first time I saw her photo at the shelter

Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog in the Facebook ad posted by my local shelter — my first sight of this magical being who is my best friend. She was four months old.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/rdp-79-dog/

Walk on the Wild Side

One of the places I like to hike in summer, fall, winter has enclosed part of itself with electric fencing. When I first saw the fencing, I wondered why (duh) but yesterday I saw the absolute bovinity of the reason.

Cows. Moms and kids. I don’t think they’ve been in there long as the herbage hasn’t been chewed down and there were no cow paddies on the trail.

And the fence isn’t secure.

Not everyone likes hiking with cows. In California it was the way things were up in the higher mountains east of San Diego where I hiked most of the time once I mooooved out of town. I thought of that yesterday. Pastures. I hike in pastures. There are dangers involved in hiking in pastures, especially with heifers and calves, but (so far, apparently) I’ve only had one scary moment when a mom cow thought her precious child, Hamburger, or, rather “Grass Fed Beef,” was in any danger from me and my dogs. Heifers are very protective.

The BLM, Bureau of Land Management who has the care of the refuge, had put a sign on the (new) gate saying, “Cows in field. Please close gate.” I’m a rabid gate closer having once — as a little girl — allowed 20, 50, five million chickens to roam freely in the pasture between my Aunt Jo’s house and my grandma’s. I paid dearly for that sin of omission and have NOT committed it again.

We closed the gate and began walking. It was really, really nice to be out there with my dogs. My knee was fine, I was fine, the whole thing was fine, but I didn’t bring water and at 1/2 mile, we had to turn back. It was hot and 30 minutes is all I could see was fair to walk my dogs without a drink.

Meanwhile, almost literally back at the ranch…

As we were leaving, I saw a black cow and a white calf make a subtle moooove (yes, cattle may be large but they can be subtle) near the gate. I didn’t see them where they should have been when I passed the spot.

They’d escaped.

I got into the car, backed out of the lot and headed down the dirt road. There they were. Strolling together in the shade.

Trapped between an irrigation canal on their (and my) left and an electric fence on the right, Mom sauntered along with child behind. I wanted to find a way to circle around and drive toward them, possibly turning them where I would heroically open the gate and shoo them back in with the others, but the opportunity never came.

They made it to the busy county road at the end of this lovely lane. They were nearly hit. I called my vet, whose office is very nearby, thinking they might know the owners, but the woman answering the phone had no clue, and thought I was talking about the Alamosa Wildlife Refuge. As I didn’t know the number of the county road (I live Where the Streets Have No Name) so I could set her straight, I gave up. It’s amazing — but true — that people living in this tiny Colorado town don’t have intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny. I headed back toward home, and who should be coming out of Sonic but the BLM truck with an actual BLM worker inside. I blocked his exit and motioned him to come to my car.

I don’t think that would work in LA.

“There’s a heifer and a calf loose on the 3E.” (I’d learned the number of the road in the meantime.) “By the Wildlife Refuge.”

He grinned and said, “I’ll go see if I can herd her back inside.”

I came home. I hope they’re OK.

***

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/rdp-77-encircle/

This is the News Today, O’ Boy

I’m up in Colorado Springs. My friend’s husband had a hip replacement Monday and while things went fine, he was still in the hospital for two nights. That was good. It’s where he should have been.

It’s my longest trip up here since I presented at the SISSI (Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery [RIP]) in 2014, the March moment when I realized I was about to retire and sat in my room in the Antler’s Hotel and filled in the retirement documents instead of going to conference sessions.

I didn’t know at the time that SISSI was retiring, too. My paper was too long and my presentation lousy. The topic for the conference was “Heroes” and my hero was the person who survived. The paper was just too long for a speech but it’s not a bad read (though quite long and literary, including footnotes and a bibliography), The Heroism of Mere Survival and, something I should hold onto and remember.

On my way driving up here, I began experiencing pain in my right hip (the “good” one). By the time I arrived, I was really hurting. And it didn’t go away. I had nightmarish thoughts that the hip resurfacing prosthesis I got 11 years ago was loosening or something and I was in for another grueling fucking rehab. Yesterday I called my doc and and looked at my X-rays (6 weeks old) and told me no. That as I’m an active person and doing more than I’ve been able to do for a while, it’s undoubtedly a soft tissue problem, a combination of stress on my IT band and a minor inflamation of the sciatic nerve. They moved my next appointment up and I’m going to get a cortisone shot if it still hurts.

I actually saw him at the hospital while we waited for my friend’s husband to come out of recovery. Only an orthopedic surgeon is going to greet you with, “Hi Martha! That left leg is still crooked.”

To which you reply, “Yeah, my knee’s fucked up.”

To which he replies, “I know.” And you high five each other.

The whole week as felt surreal. I cooked meals for my friend so she didn’t have to deal with it when she came home from the hospital in the evening. There’s not much I can do that’s concrete beyond that and moral support.

Sadly, Bailey is back at his old owner’s to stay. Dusty attacked him, and though he wasn’t hurt, no one wants that to happen again.

That’s the news. I’m going home tomorrow. Dusty and Bear are back in boarding and that’s not free. I will be glad to drop into my sainted, lovely valley and return to my (extremely) non-effervescent life of exercise, writing and dogs.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/rdp-71-effervescent/

Postscript

Today’s Bear’s “Bearday” — the anniversary of my adopting her three years ago, plagued with doubts though I was.

The rest is history.

So… for her “Bearday” party she, Bailey and I went for a walk along the Rio Grande, a shady trail that’ll be open until March. YAY!!!

On the way back I encountered a woman with a big Chow-chow mix. We both stopped. She said, ‘Tell you what, I’ll go over here to the side of the trail and let you pass.”

I said, “Thanks. I have one kind of bad leg.”

She said, “Oh, I know what you mean. I just had a knee replacement six weeks ago.”

I thought, “Holy shit, woman, you’re amazing!” I said, “Wow. You’re doing great.” Everything I’ve read about knee replacement says rehab is slow compared to hip replacement. I didn’t dare walk my dogs until six weeks after my surgery. I felt like a wimp. Then I said, “Hip replacement, 11 weeks ago.”

“You’re doing great!” she said. “Dr. Trepi?” (Local doc in Alamosa who did her knee)

“No, I went to the Springs. Dr. Szuszczewicz.”

Meanwhile our dogs stared at each other across the 50 or so feet between us.

“Oh. OK, let me move over here.” She vanished from sight (but not from smell; Bear was very excited to meet a new person and dog).

When I reached her, we continued our conversation and I explained I couldn’t let Bear off leash so our dogs could play. “She’d catch a scent and I’d never see her again.

“I’ve seen you before,” she said, “on the other side?”

“Yeah, I’m sure I’ve seen you.” We introduced ourselves, then said goodbye and headed in our opposite directions, and I thought; “There’s at least ONE other old lady getting new, titanium parts so she can walk her dog.”

And I was happy. So now the “Pepsi” generation is more like the titanium generation.

What You’re Not Going to Be Again, No Matter What

At physical therapy, I see quite a few people my age (over 65) who have had joint replacements. There’s one lady who had a knee replacement. She comes in with her walker. Since I’ve been going for two months, and I’m hoping to be kicked out next Tuesday, I wonder about her. The other day I overheard the conversation that I expected. “You only have $400 left on Medicare.”

“What will I do?”

This woman with only $400 left on Medicare for physical therapy comes in twice a week. Her son brings her and the grandchildren come too. She’s very nice; clearly a really sweet woman. However, she’s not making a lot of progress, and that was the real message of “You only have $400 left on Medicare.” The therapist said, then, straight out, “You have to do something at home every single day for this to work.”

Back in the fall  I was seriously contemplating ending it all when my hip started acting up. Having been through it before, knowing the pain, the struggle to find the right doc, the challenge of rehab and the fact that I KNOW I’m not necessary to life on this planet any more (I’m retired) all conspired to make me think, “Why bother?” Pain is depressing and knowledge can be depressing and those two were hammering at my will to live. When Bear persuaded me against that (it’s good to listen to your dog from time time) I had no idea where this was all going to take me. What did she say? “If you do that, you’ll have to find a home for me and I’m your dog.” There was more, but that’s the salient part.

I began to see that fixing my hip would mean my walks with her would be a lot more pleasant for me and longer, probably. I started looking at the positive side of it and moral support from friends — here and in my 3D life — helped a lot. But walking Dusty and Bear at the slough even though it hurt, I think that was the biggest thing. My body was telling me in no uncertain terms how much that meant to me.

Today, having this morning finished (meaning I know the whole story now) The Schneebelis Go to America, I headed outside to clean up messes that have been lingering since before the surgery, really. I had put the lawn mower under a tarp since it was complicated getting it out of the garage — but now I’ve found a kid who’ll mow my lawn for 20 bucks so I put the mower away. I systematically looked for canine ordure I might have missed when it was not so easy to clean the yard. I spent time weeding and giving thanks to my garden for carrying on without me.

 

 

The Scarlet Emperor Bean, Cao Xueqin

I think it’s all very nice and interesting that the birds planted sunflowers for me and that the Scarlet Emperor Bean is 8 feet high and is actually making beans. I’m not going to eat them — though I understand they are yummy — I want more seeds. I love this plant and I want it everywhere next year. THEN I’ll eat it.

And walking is good — I have been doing two dog walks each day since I can’t walk 3 dogs at a time at this point. The Airdyne continues to be good (I’m going 12 miles which is the equivalent of a 6 mile hike, my favorite length for a daily hike in olden times). I’ve managed to do the Elliptical Trainer at physical therapy for 15 minutes which is awesome considering it takes a lot of leg muscle and I have never done it before. It’s almost — but not quite — like running or climbing a hill. I like it.

Inside me I’m me, but outside me, I’m an old woman, and it shocks me. It is a reminder that no matter WHAT I do, I will not be young again. That made me think about what it meant to me to be young. I still don’t know — but it does include some possibilities that don’t exist any more. About the time I turned 50 I realized I was entering the time of life when I would start experiencing the endings of the various stories of my life, in other words, the question, “I wonder what will happen?” would start being, “OK, so that’s what happened.”

  • I wonder if my brother will sober up? No, he’ll die
  • I wonder if I will fall in love and live happily ever after with someone finally? Extremely unlikely, though someone from 25 years ago will realize that you are and/or were “the one,” a denoument you won’t be able to wrap your head around, but that’s OK. You don’t have to. Just say, “I love you, too” and get on with your life.
  • I wonder if Martin of Gfenn will be a best seller? Nope but you’ll be OK with it, and you’ll write other books that won’t be bestsellers, either. You’ll learn that writing itself is the point. Some people will read them and love them. That’s going to be all you need or want.
  • I wonder how I will retire, what the circumstances will be? Convoluted and dishonest, but you’ll be happy with the result and you’ll forget about it quicker than you can imagine

Those kinds of questions. They led me to this very important question:

“What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

“Oh honey, that’s easy. You want to walk in nature with your dogs.”

“That’s it? That’s all I want?”

“If you think about the actual days of your actual younger life, what made you most happy?”

“Ah… So that’s why Bear was so adamant.”

It has made me wonder what that other lady at physical therapy dreams of for the rest of her life. I hope she, also, has found it.

Inspiration

My high school art teacher was mostly (where I was concerned) nasty and inept, but once in a while he said something worth hearing. One of these things was “Don’t depend on inspiration. Art is 98% work and 2% inspiration.”

I now know he probably didn’t invent that saying, but he’s right, though for myself, I’d give inspiration a few more percentage points. I find there are two moments of inspiration; there’s a moment when you get an inspiring idea and there might be a moment in the midst of working out the idea that you are inspired again, inspired within the work you’re doing. This happens to me all the time. I think a lot of writers/artists can be inspired BY their work. I hope so, anyway, because it’s the best.

For nearly two years (I think?) I’ve been writing what I’ve called “The Schneebelis Come to America.” It’s been pure drudgery most of the time. The protagonist I found unlikeable. I didn’t want to write a female heroine for many reasons but mostly because, right now, a female heroine almost MUST be a certain type of female. Since the Schneebelis (and their adventures) are based on my own family and its history, and I would have stayed in Switzerland, and would like to be there now, I kept getting a little angry them for emigrating. And, the damned thing was (is) a love story. I didn’t want to write a love story.

But I had to write it. I felt not only compelled but IMPELLED (impaled?). It was the strangest inspiration I’ve experienced. Once in a while, I’d get to it and the story would go somewhere and then it would just kind of die in a pool of my resentment over any one of those problems.

And then…

Before my hip surgery, I contacted a woman — Beth Bruno —  whom I’d hired to edit Savior and The Brothers PathI wanted someone to read it and tell me what they thought was missing. I think in my heart of hearts I KNEW what was missing, but I just didn’t want to write the damned thing any more and was hoping for absolution OR “Gawd, woman, this is awful. Put it away FOREVER.”

What I got was:

I must say, this is a touching story about family with its focus on marriage and how two people in love can still find it impossible to move ahead because their life goals are so different. Love doesn’t conquer all after all. They explore difficult issues of love, loyalty, compromise and taking risks at various choice points in their lives.
The reason I think it deserves a longer ending that allows the story to develop further is that I don’t think enough happens after the family reaches America to give the reader some sense of whether the trip was worth it or not. The fact that their passage wound up being on a death ship only makes letting the survivors cope for a few weeks that much more important. Otherwise, the loss of Verena and Elisabethli is for naught and teaches Hans Kaspar nothing at all. The part about the ending that I do like is seeing Conrad come into his own and go forth into the future with a sense of purpose and readiness to create a family that honors Verena’s memory.
Again, I found myself caring deeply about these people because what they are going through is so real — not only from the standpoint of your wonderful writing but also from the historical truths they portray.

 

OH well. We then had a phone conversation. After that, I was inspired.

So I went at it. Most important, I went at it with a not completely clear brain (it takes a while for anesthesia to fully leave an older person’s system) and not caring at all about the outcome. I really had nothing else to do. My main jobs have been regaining my physical ability and integrating a new dog into the “pack.”

As I worked, the work started to inspire me and the time I had spent writing blog posts went into the story.

Inspiration is a drug. It’s very intoxicating and no one who’s in the throes of it thinks clearly or has an objective mind. Inspiration just feels SO GOOD. One of these days I felt the whole day had been a dream — it had been a day of successful writing, fifteen minutes on the Elliptical trainer at physical therapy, two dog walks (with three dogs, there are those days) — not a special day, but when it ended I really felt I’d dreamed the whole thing. It seemed to have had no hours or minutes in it.

Yesterday I finished it and I was in love with the ending. That’s the thing about inspiration; it feels a lot like infatuation. You wonder, “Will it last?”

I wrote my editor and said, “I did it. I have an ending, but I’m not telling.” I wasn’t sure. I wanted to sleep on it. When I got up today and read it, I was LESS in love than I was yesterday, but I was happy with it.

I thought about Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet which is a very wise piece of advice for anyone? Writers? Young people? and I read it first in a bookstore in Denver in Larimer Square in the early 1970s. I thought it wrote it for ME it was that apt — it’s (I now know) that apt for a lot of people. It’s a collection of letters he wrote to a young poet (duh). He warns against “Living and writing in heat.” Inspiration is “heat” — and a wise person will give the products of that ecstasy time to cool

The thing about writing — and unless I’m doing it I don’t think about it — is it is a solitary thing. When I first moved here and was finishing The Brothers Path and I didn’t know anyone, it was easy. Now I know a few people and I like them, but in the midst of inspiration, I don’t have anything in common with anyone. I’m living in a world peopled by beings that are from my imagination (and some dogs). It’s hard to have a conversation when there’s already a bunch of them going on in your head — some with yourself (“Is this where the story really goes next or am I forcing it?”) some between the people in your imagination…

So I’ve spent the last 3 months pretty much alone and, if not alone, somewhat alienated.

Rilke also writes against literary criticism (amen), saying, “Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them,” after which he describes what it means to be an artist:

Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!

I’m happy I didn’t force this and that I didn’t give up. I’m happy for the clear eyes of my editor who saw the love story as it is — a love that just wasn’t going to make the people involved happy. I know a lot about that kind of love, which is why I resisted “happily ever after.” The project still needs a lot of work and there are things — research related — that I want to do before it will be finished, but I’m very happy that, finally, the story engaged me and even happier that it engaged my editor in the first place. She saw what I hoped I had written.

***

The photo is of the Hans Herr house in Lancaster PA. He was an early Swiss immigrant — Mennonite — to Pennsylvania from Zürich.

More Pictures of Bailey

One of my readers wanted more pictures of Bailey, my new dog, a geriatric golden retriever. Today we went on our first solo-walk and he was perfect. I use a head-harness/Halti/gentle leader and once he got the hang of it he was great. He got to walk around the hood smelling and leaving messages.

He’s terrified of thunder and actually has a prescription for Xanax. Since it is now thunder season here in Heaven I’ve had to give it to him. Yesterday he was funny. He got relaxed and realized this house is full of toys and commenced ripping them apart. He tried to toss balls for Bear to toss back but she’s not that kind of dog. He does retrieve.

I like him a lot. He and Dusty had one scrap — no one was hurt — and it seems to have established the scrapping order.

Here’s Bailey yesterday — on Xanax — having discovered two toys

 

 

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“What are you doing, Martha?” (I was riding the bike to nowhere)

 

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“You’ve been warned. If you don’t take me to the slough, your hiking shoe is toast.”

Dusty and Bear are OK with him. I don’t think he’s a very “dog-social” dog, but he is definitely human centered. He sleeps in my room. Wherever I am he will go there. On our walk today (his second walk in Monte Vista, his first walk alone with me) he knew which alley was our alley and which driveway was our drive way. I let go of the leash and he went to the gate and waited. He’s just a very nice dog. Undeniably he has slid into Mindy’s old place which is somewhat eerie, but very right. The vet conjectures that Bailey is about 8 years old.

When I was a little kid I saw my first golden retriever and I thought they were the most beautiful dogs in the world and I decided I would breed them. Of course, I didn’t. Bailey is my second. My first, Kelly, was taller and more red, but just as sweet and responsive.

 

 

Kelly O'Dog

Kelly O’Dog sometime around 1993

 

 

Bailey

I knew when Mindy T. Dog went to the Enchanted Forest that a dog would show up who needed to live with Dusty, Bear and me. This dog is Bailey — and because of his Viking appearance, I’ve named him Bailey Egilsson after Egil, my favorite (and most bizarre) hero from the Icelandic Sagas.

Bailey was — long ago — tied up in a yard and abandoned, then my friend rescued him. This happened in San Diego. My friend moved to Colorado Springs but Bailey wasn’t happy there because of the VERY numerous and long thunder storms and a puppy who harassed him. This past weekend, he came to live with us in the relative calm of Monte Vista.

He’s very sweet, rather elderly, and just an all around good dog. Dusty and Bear don’t seem to like or dislike him. The dominance fracases which are inevitable have been brief. Dusty is not a dominant dog and neither is Bailey. I’m sure Dusty could have lived without having another dog in the house, but he doesn’t really mind. Bear likes to play with Bailey who will play hide-n-seek with her.